Wednesday evening Morgan High School band students, parents and community members were treated to a special performance from the Ogden Buddhist Taiko drum group.
After a nice evening of jazz and classical music performances from the MHS band, the Taiko drum group took the stage. MHS band member Kyle Hall is also a member of the unique drum assembly.
Kyle and his parents learned of the Ogden Buddhist Taiko drum group shortly after moving to Utah. Dorothy Hall, Kyle’s mother, saw an article about the group’s upcoming performance at a pre-Olympic event and remembered fondly seeing Taiko drumming as a child. She connected with group members and joined the drummers in the fall of 2000.
Following suit, her daughter Claire joined the group and Kyle joined shortly after. The family loves taking a part in something that celebrates their Japanese heritage. David, Kyle’s father, builds and repairs the drums that the group uses, but also joined the beginning group last year.
“One does not need special training to join the group, but it often takes a few years for someone to move from the beginning group into the performance group,” said Dorothy. She continues saying that the learning curve is different for each individual, as is true for any instrument. “It takes about a year to learn the first piece, Renshu. This piece contains all the beats we learn, so once you learn Renshu, it becomes easier to play other pieces,” commented Dorothy.
The Taiko group practices almost every Sunday for two hours, and it shows. The performance was captivating. Every member of the audience was mesmerized by the steady drum beats and the fluid arm movements. Following the performance, one child exclaimed, “But I don’t want it to be over. I love those drum people!”
Anyone can join the group, but there is a fee for anyone who is not a member of the Ogden Buddhist Church. The group has two and three generations of family members playing Taiko. According to Dorothy, the oldest member is in her 60s and children generally start around age 10.
As Kyle is a senior at Morgan High this year, this may have been the last year to see the group at a local band concert. But the group performs at a number of cultural events in the Ogden and Salt Lake areas. Their next performance will be Saturday, April 26 at the annual Nihon Matsuri celebration in Salt Lake City.